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In this post, I walk step-by-step through the key processes required to program a part utilizing a four-platter KME tombstone on a Makino A61 Horizontal machine.

I’m excited to share this series of videos with you because the four-platter KME tombstone adds rotary axes, is commissioned to allow higher production machining, and also increases the capability of a standard 4-axis horizontal to one with 5-axis capabilities. This allows manufacturers to keep pace with current manufacturing demands using commissioned machinery. TopSolid 7 allows you to manage this additional complexity easily and efficiently.

This post contains seven videos:

  • Prepare to Machine a Part Utilizing a Four-Platter KME Tombstone on a Makino A61 Horizontal Machine
  • Make Toolpath with TopSolid on the KME Tombstone
  • Make Custom Origins in TopSolid and Organize Them
  • TopSolid Automatic Origin Selection on a KME Tombstone
  • Create Drilling Toolpath with TopSolid on a KME Tombstone
  • Finish the Drillings and Break Some Edges
  • Verify, Document and Post-Process with TopSolid on KME Tombstone

Let’s dive in and see how it works.

Prepare the Machine Part Setup

We start by accessing the kinematic definitions of our machine. By utilizing these definitions, we know everything there is to know about our machine saving tremendous amounts of time and reducing the risk of error.Review the kinematic capabilities of the KME tombstone in TopSolid

After importing our part, TopSolid’s heal command allows me to check the integrity of my model. After assuring my model is valid, I simplify it based on set tolerances. This simplification process measures every face of the model to make sure that they are registered as simple forms of geometries like planes, cylinders, conics, lines, arcs and so forth. The process will also combine the faces of the model and check again for validity.

With a validated model confirmed, I begin laying out my machine parts setup document that will include all needed information about my stock model, machine document, tooling, parts and fixtures. Much of this machine, tooling and fixture information is already established in previous TopSolid projects. This saves a lot of time and capitalizes on information and knowledge generated from previous work.

As you watch the video, pay particular attention to the ease and efficiency of TopSolid’s drag-and-drop functionality.

Let’s Make Our First Toolpath

This video shows off three powerful aspects of TopSolid 7. First, our library of pre-loaded tools allows us to make quick tool selection and tool behavior adjustments. Second, utilizing TopSolid’s drag-and-drop functionality, we can easily apply our created toolpath to all appropriate faces.

Finally, this demonstration highlights a problematic error and a cool way to quickly solve the problem. At first, our toolpath did not account for the fact that we have a vice fixture holding our part in place. So, our original toolpath would have collided with the jaws of the vice – of course, not good.

Make Toolpath with TopSolid on the KME Tombstone

Depending on your project, you can add fixture offsets manually or you can utilize TopSolid’s preparation stage functionality. The preparation stage serves as kind of a moment in history between the loading of our machine prior to our fixtures and the creation of our toolpath. Accessing this preparation stage space allows you to insert functionality that will be universal to a given tool for a given project. In this demonstration, I use these capabilities to avoid the jaws of the vice within our toolpath. With this adjustment made, we can apply to all faces of our part and TopSolid automatically recalculates the cutting paths.

Making and Organizing Custom Origins

To begin, I created some Work Coordinate Systems (WCS), or frames. I have found that the best place to do this framing work is by utilizing TopSolid’s preparation stage, which again serves as kind of a moment in history between the loading of our machine prior to our fixtures and the creation of our toolpath. TopSolid is a parametric software, so everything in history starts at the bottom and moves up in the trees. By doing this working in the preparation stage, we are in effect reverting to the modeling stage and the frames we create will be applied to the entire project moving forward.

Finally, I created all our needed origin points in order that we can associate these tool paths to the correct origins. TopSolid’s WCS and origins manager features allow you to quickly make these associations, as well as organize them effectively.

Automatic Origin Selection on a KME Tombstone

Within this video, we will complete the milling of our part. This work will go quickly because we now have everything set up. I will also highlight the extremely handy automatic origin selection feature of TopSolid 7.

TopSolid will automatically activate the WCS that makes the most sense given the frame orientation and the previous setup information we established. Of course, you can switch to another WCS if you would like, but TopSolid strives for efficiency by making some assumptions and suggestions for you.

This demonstration also highlights how TopSolid’s machining simulation highlights where alternative tools need to be used, but shows you how easy it is to apply established toolpath to the newly selected tools. TopSolid will also automatically change the lead in and lead out for a given area of the part to allow the tool to perform effectively.

Finally, this segment explores the truncated contouring feature, which can be thought of as a local feature mode.

Most importantly, TopSolid allows you to spend more time processing parts and less time working about executing highly routine operations in large part through its ability to apply changes as universally or as locally as you want, make suggestions based on inputted factors and recalculate toolpaths based on changes.

Create Drilling Toolpath with TopSolid on a KME Tombstone

While in this video we establish drillings, the true highlight of this segment is showing off TopSolid’s ability to reuse things you have already taught the system to do.Drill some holes on your KME tombstone with TopSolid

We start by using the analysis of drillings and cylinders command which gives you the ability to map predefined toolpath strategies. As you will learn, for this feature to work, you must build these predefined toolpath strategies. After these strategies are created, much time can be saved; however, in the meantime, you can simply manually program your drillings.

As we experienced when we were working on our millings, TopSolid will automatically select tools for you (which can be changed as/if needed). Additionally, you will see that I have taught TopSolid to automatically calculate print diameter. This coupled with chamfer information will allow TopSolid to find all identical drillings and apply all the same settings. This, of course, saves a great deal of time.

Finish the Drillings and Break Some Edges

As we finish our drillings, you continue to see how efficient it is to apply settings to identical drillings and are reminded of the time savings facilitated by the drag and drop functionality of TopSolid.

To complete this segment, we need to break the edges as the customer requested a 15,000th chamfer on all the part’s edges that are one inch or larger. Using the breaking edges milling feature of TopSolid, the system finds every edge meeting this criterion and therefore needing a chamfer. A potential complication arises, however, when we can see that some of our chamfering toolpaths will collide with features of the part. Amazingly, when we investigate, the created toolpaths are collision-free. As it turns out, TopSolid led on and led off based on a lateral safety distance for the selected tool. However, to achieve the edges we need, we need to make tool selection change and other minor adjustments to allow the breaking edges milling feature to facilitate our needed chamfer without collisions.

Verify, Document and Post Process

Before we complete our project and post process, we must manage a few more tasks. First, we need to review our cutting conditions to make sure that we did not make any mistakes or omissions. In fact, we’ll discover a few needed adjustments and programming changes that are therefore required. However, TopSolid’s regeneration commands allows you to either recalculate the toolpath or recalculate minor changes such as the feeds and speeds changes we made.

We then verify our part and use TopSolid’s machine simulation to observe the material removal and check for collisions within the entire process – thiws, after all, is why you invest in the robust TopSolid solution.

With our part verified, we then want to create a setup sheet to allow the setup teamVerify, Document and Post Process for the KME Tombstone with TopSolid member to know exactly what they will be cutting and include detailed information describing every  operation. In addition to all the in-depth information included within the document, we can make notes and annotations for each operation. Any design change, even a design change from another CAD system, updates all data including this setup document.

Finally, moving to post-processing we see that this toolpath should run beautifully on our Makino A61 Horizontal machine. We machined our part on a complex fixture, on a complex tombstone and it was no match for TopSolid.

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